NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Neots Town beaten by a ‘soft’ penalty as new boss waits for first points
- Credit: Archant
New boss Barry Corr’s wait for a first success as St Neots Town manager continued last Saturday.
The struggling Saints were beaten 1-0 by an AFC Dunstable side, who were winning for the first time in 10 games, in Southern League Division One Central.
The contest was settled by a penalty early in the second half which was carelessly conceded by defender Aaron Smith and coolly converted by former Saints man Nathan Frater.
"It was very similar to the previous week," admitted Corr, who had seen his reign begin with a 2-1 home defeat to Bedworth United. "It is a game we could easily have taken a point from if not won.
"There was nothing in it and a soft penalty - which was very avoidable from our point of view as their player was running away from goal and towards the corner flag - was ultimately the difference between the two teams.
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"I've made it clear to the players that I never get too upset if they make a genuine mistake providing they learn from it going forward. The only things I find unacceptable are a lack of commitment and desire, and they are certainly not issues I've had so far.
"I was pleased with our attitude and application. We knew it was going to be a real battle in tough conditions after the pitch passed a late inspection and I felt we competed well."
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Corr's men had found the net themselves towards the end of the opening period of little incident, but debutant Joe Neal finished from an offside position.
Neal, one of four Cambridge United players brought in following the League Two club's link-up with Saints, was generally starved of service and support.
Saints found themselves behind from the spot seven minutes into the second half and only a deflection prevented Frater's brother and fellow ex-Saints player, Ryan, from doubling the AFC Dunstable lead.
But Saints then began to up the ante in what proved to be a fruitless search for a leveller.
Leading scorer Prince Mutswunguma twice pulled shots wide before Lewis Simper was cynically brought down when bearing down on goal in another attack.
And even when Saints could get efforts on target late on, they could find no way past AFC Dunstable keeper Dan Green, who kept out a Sam Gomersall volley at full-stretch before pushing a Joe Sutton effort over the bar.
Second-bottom Saints now face four successive home games - a run which begins with the visit of mid-table Coleshill to the Premier Plus Stadium tomorrow night (Tuesday).
They also come up against two of their fellow bottom-six sides when hosting Didcot (this Saturday, 3pm) and Biggleswade FC (February 1) A clash with table-toppers Corby is scheduled for next Tuesday.
Corr added: "The games are coming thick and fast and I'm confident we can get points from them.
"It's the type of division where anyone can beat anyone else - even more so at this time of the season when pitches tend to be a real leveller.
"Of course we respect all opponents, but there is no reason for us to fear any team at this level."
Midfielder Joe Massaro will return to Kettering Town from his loan spell as Saints boss Corr can't guarantee him regular football.